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Regional News

Massachusetts AG bid will push Holyoke Soldiers' Home case to Appeals Court

The Holyoke Soldiers' Home.
Simtropolitan
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Creative Commons
The Holyoke Soldiers' Home.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced Tuesday that she is appealing the recent dismissal of grand jury indictments against two former Holyoke Soldiers' Home officials in connection with their roles in the deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the facility in 2020.

Healey's office said she filed her appeal in Hampden County Superior Court, seeking to reverse the dismissal of indictments against former Superintendent Bennett Walsh of Springfield and Dr. David Clinton of South Hadley, the home's former medical director.

Healey's office said the case will be transferred to the Appeals Court where an appeal will be entered once the full record is assembled.

Judge Edward McDonough on Nov. 22 allowed both defendants' motions to dismiss.

In September 2020, they had each been indicted on five counts each of "caretaker who wantonly or recklessly commits or permits bodily injury to an elder or disabled person," and "caretaker who wantonly or recklessly commits or permits abuse, neglect, or mistreatment to an elder or disabled person."

"The tragic loss of life at the Holyoke Soldiers' Home broke the promise that our Commonwealth would honor these men who bravely served our country," Healey said in a statement. "We are filing this notice of appeal today to pursue accountability on behalf of their loved ones and communities."

The Legislature and Gov. Charlie Baker since the tragedy have agreed to a new law to build a new soldiers' home in Holyoke, but governance reforms intended to ensure greater accountability at the state-run home have failed to advance.

The case against the two former leaders centers on decisions made on March 27, 2020, to allow patients at the facility who were positive for COVID-19 to mingle with asymptomatic veterans at the home.

Healey's office in September 2020 announced the criminal neglect charges against Walsh and Clinton, tying them to an outbreak that contributed to the death of at least 76 facility residents.

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